Buckland boy Pack’s done good

Marlon Pack made his sole Pompey appearance against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup in 2010. Picture: Mick Young
Marlon Pack made his sole Pompey appearance against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup in 2010. Picture: Mick Young
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It’s a journey which started at Buckland in the heart of Portsmouth.

And this weekend it will see Marlon Pack walking out at Wembley in the League Two play-off final for Cheltenham.

In between, there has been stop-offs at the likes of Copnor North End and Moneyfields and an education coming through the ranks at Fratton Park.

But the 21-year-old has also had to contend with the pain of rejection at his hometown club.

That clearly hurt the local lad but now, nearly a year to the day since his departure, Pack has turned his Pompey setback on its head.

A season to remember for the Robins has seen him get 52 appearances under his belt.

Pack’s performances saw him short-listed for the League Two player of the season award and named in the division’s team of the year.

Then came his world class free-kick last week to put the seal on his side’s win over Torquay in the play-off semi-finals.

Now the fulfilment of a dream will be played out at the home of football on Sunday. The Buckland boy’s done good.

‘It’s been a memorable season – more than I could ever wish for,’ said Pack, as he reflected on the whole campaign.

‘It’s ridiculous, really! I’m born and raised in Buckland and went to Flying Bull School and then City Boys.

‘I’m a proper Buckland boy and a proper Pompey boy.

‘It’s a cliché but it’s every boy’s dream to walk out at Wembley.

‘It’s going to be the biggest moment of my career. I was lucky enough to play at White Hart Lane this season in front of 32,000 fans.

‘I’ve only been to Wembley once before – and that was to watch Portsmouth in the FA Cup final in 2008.

‘So to be there on the pitch playing – to go from watching, to people watching me – will be a dream come true.

‘I suppose it shows if you keep your head down and work at things you achieve what you want to achieve.’

Pack’s childhood and youth is ingrained in Portsmouth and its institutions.

Educated locally and turning out for the football clubs in the area, he is thankful for the grounding it’s given him.

Now the midfielder is a single game away from a return to Fratton Park next season – in the colours of Cheltenham.

Pack said: ‘I played football locally when I was younger.

‘I was playing every Sunday until I was in year seven.

‘I was playing for Copnor North End the year above me but they went to 11-a-side and I wasn’t allowed to play – so I went to my own age group.

‘I was supposed to be playing for Portsmouth’s centre of excellence but that got scrapped, so I ended signing for Moneyfields.

‘At the end of that season I started playing every week for Portsmouth.

‘As a young footballer, I look back to those times and the youth team years with happy memories.

‘You don’t get much better banter than you got in the youth team. I still speak to all the boys there.

‘We had a close-knit team and I’m still in touch with a lot of them like Matt Ritchie, Joel Ward, Callum Reynolds, Paris Cowan-Hall, Ryan Woodford, Joe Collins and Louis Castles.

‘There are a few local boys there who went all the way through the age groups.

‘It didn’t work out for me at Portsmouth, though. I suppose everyone has their opinions. That’s football.

‘It hurt at first but I guess it’s worked out well. I’ve played all season for Cheltenham, which is what I wanted.

‘And now I’m in a play-off final at Wembley. I’ve got to be happy with that.’